I grew up in the Snow Country. Extreme northern New York State almost to Canada. The white world of winter – white snowscape meeting white sky. I loved the crisp cold beauty and the solitude of it where a young girl could be truly on her own.
My mother was strict but she’d never go out in the biting cold or the blowing snow to track me down. Once I was through the front door of 439 East Avenue I was literally in the wind and I wouldn’t return home until suppertime.
Mom wasn’t a great cook but he was a good cook. She was especially good at winter cooking. In other words substantial food. “That will put meat on your bones,” my dad would say. He was almost always referring to a pot of something set to simmer on the back of the stove all day long.
Soups and stews and spaghetti sauce were the most frequent occupants of that pot. It wasn’t a fancy pot because we weren’t fancy people. We didn’t care what the outside of the pot looked like. We cared what its contents tasted like – and how they made us feel.
On a cold winter day the pot fare from my mother’s kitchen made us feel – first of all – warm. We ate in the dining room but we could smell the aroma from the kitchen that had our mouths watering even before the steaming bowls were carried in and set down in front of us.
Then we’d eat – quietly for a while because we were so very hungry. Then gradually we’d discover the other thing those cold-weather pot meals made us feel. They made us feel full.
Flash decades forward to my kitchen. We live in the northeast – not as far north but it still gets very cold here. My husband Jonathan is a contractor. He runs time-pressured jobs for demanding people and he comes home hungry every night. In the winter he comes home hungry and cold.
We live in an apartment building on the second floor. Jonathan walks that one flight up each night. As he climbs the aroma of my kitchen draws him home. He drops his jobsite boots at the door – shakes the snow from his work jacket and leaves the outside world behind.
“I could smell your cooking all the way,” he says as he folds me into his still chilly arms that feel warm as toast to me anyway. Then he lifts the lid of the pot and takes a long deep whiff. He is continuing his aroma experience but what he’s really needing is substantial food.
Chili Mole is substantial food and one of Jonathan’s favorite cold-weather pot meals. I simmer it all day long – just like my mother back on East Avenue but I use the slow cooker – my best meal preparation buddy on long winter days. Here’s my recipe. Give it a try. And stay warm.
1 to 2 Tbsps. Olive Oil
1 large onion. Chopped in bite-sized chunks.
2 tsps. Minced garlic. I use the jarred kind but you can hand-mince if you prefer.
2 – 14 to 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 – 14 to 15 ounce cans red kidney beans. I like a mix of light and dark red beans.
1 – 10 to 11 ounce can tomato soup
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground coriander
2 tsps. Chili powder. This is very mild. Adjust upward to your taste for spiciness.
Squeezes of lime juice. Fresh is best. Bottled will do. But try not to leave it out.
Salt and pepper to taste. Pot meals require taste testing for sure. Don’t forget that part.
3 to 4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate processed very fine. I use 3 squares/ounces.
- Heat oil to sizzling in skillet. Add chopped onions and minced garlic. Cook on medium-high – stirring as needed – for 3 to 5 minutes until translucent.
- Coat slow cooker with nonstick spray and transfer the onion-garlic mix there.
- Add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate. Stir.
- Correct the seasonings. A crucial taste-testing step. Don’t wait until later to do this.
- Cook 2 hours on high setting or 4 hours on low setting. Either way will do.
- Add finely processed – to consistency of coarse powder – chocolate. Stir in well.
- Cook 2 more hours on high setting or 4 more hours on low setting.
- If the chili is too thick add beef broth. Canned is fine or bullion – but only if you salt very lightly at the earlier stage. Dilute the pot to your desired consistency. But keep in mind that the chili will thicken – sometimes considerably – as it cools.
- Correct the seasonings again. Garnish with grated cheese – cheddar or pepper jack.
- I serve my Chili Mole with a green salad and Alice’s Sweet Spice Cornbread. Go to my website and sign up for my newsletter to get that recipe in the Thanksgiving issue. Just click here.
- Enjoy! Be warm. Feel full and satisfied. That will make me feel satisfied too.
See you next recipe. Blessings till then. Alice Orr
Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Christmas Novella
Luke & Bethany’s Story by Alice Orr
On a cold December day Bethany Miller and her son Michael arrive in Riverton.
She grew up on Riverton Hill in remote upstate New York where her complicated family still lives. She moved away to escape all of that and more. Now she’s back because of complications in her present life with what is best for her son. She hopes the Miller family will be a Christmas blessing for Michael. She’s less hopeful about what this homecoming will be for her.
The last thing Bethany wants is further complication. That means the last person she needs to see is Luke Kalli staring down at her from the roof of Miller’s Inn. They shared a glorious connection before she fled from here. The power of that encounter and the deep feelings she experienced came at a tumultuous moment in her life. They were yet another strong reason to leave Riverton Hill on Riverton Road and never return – until today. She has no idea this place will put her son in peril.
A Vacancy at the Inn is the first Novella of the Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series featuring the Kalli family and now the Miller family too in stories of Romance and Danger. A Wrong Way Home is Book 1 of the series. A Year of Summer Shadows is Book 2. A Villain for Vanessa will be Book 3 – coming soon.
All titles are available at Amazon.
Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read A Vacancy at the Inn free!
“Alice Orr is a brilliant writer who has a Number One best seller hidden in her pocket. I look forward to more of her work,” says one Amazon reviewer. I say “Thanks!” I love to write. Especially romantic suspense novels and blog posts. I’ve been a workshop leader, book editor and literary agent. Now I live my dream of writing full-time. I’ve published thirteen novels and four novellas – both traditionally and independently – plus a memoir so far. I wrote my nonfiction book, No More Rejections, as a gift to the writers’ community I cherish. A revised edition is now in progress. Amazon says, “This book has it all.” About my romantic suspense, Amazon says, “Alice Orr turns up the heat.” Most of all, I like to hear from readers. Visit my website at www.aliceorrbooks.com. I have two grown children and two perfect grandchildren and I live with my husband Jonathan in New York City.
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